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Why are some scented candles so expensive?

woman pouring wax into beaker
photo illustrating post on why are some scented candles so expensive

Are expensive designer candles worth their price?

Did you ever walk into a home accessories store, find a candle that smelled nice, then saw the price and thought: Whoa!, and you quickly put it back where it was? Did you ask yourself: why are some scented candles so expensive? You immediately thought about all the candles you had seen in a neighborhood chain store like Action or Blokker, where the average candle price goes no more than a few euros, and you don’t understand where the difference comes from. I’ll get back to the cheap candles in a moment, but let’s start with the top shelf.

You may know that some scented candles can cost as much as €400-€500. The price range between €70 – €130 is quite an average for designer candles. Or those sold by celebrities (the infamous Gwyneth Paltrow $75 “Smells Like My Vagina” candle comes to mind!). Of course, it is quite normal that designer brands are far more expensive, it’s the same with clothes, shoes, and perfumes. You are paying for the brand’s logo. But what are these candles really worth? What determines the price?

What determines the price of a scented candle?

To calculate the price of a candle you need to add the cost of wax, fragrance, wick, container, and label. Then there are packaging costs (for example a box), production costs (you need to have equipment to work with, and you need to pay bills to use electricity), location costs (you have to have space to produce anything), logistics (like transport), and human work cost (someone has to make the products and supervise the production).

The cost of wax depends on the kind (paraffine, soy wax, bee wax, etc.) and the amount you order from suppliers (the more you order, the cheaper it gets). The same with fragrance, although it can get more complicated here. A candle manufacturer can use essential oils, fragrance oils, or perfumes. As a rule, scented candles with essential oils are the most expensive (even though not necessarily better; read more on the subject here), but some perfumes can be pricy as hell, too, especially if they’re some exclusive, original fragrance created for the brand. The sort of container can also have a great impact on the price; a single container’s cost can differ between €0.40 and €40. And if the producer decides to go for fancy, high-end packaging… Well, you see where I am going with this.

Are cheap candles worth buying?

We have then the expensive scented candles, but on the other end, we have suspiciously cheap candles. Go to Action and see. Now you should ask yourself: how is this possible that you can buy a candle for as little as a few euros? Think again about all the variable costs I mentioned above.

If a candle costs €5, and the average purchase margin of chain stores is between 2.0 -3.0 that means that the manufacturer sold this candle to the store for somewhere between €1,66 and €2,50. Let’s take the middle price with a margin of 2.5. That would mean that Action purchased this candle for €2 (so they can make €3 profit – VAT). So, you think the manufacturer made €2 on this candle? Now, here you have to deduct what it costs to make it. The average decent margin for the manufacturer should be somewhere between 40-60%. So let’s assume that the manufacturer wants to have 50% profit on each candle. If he sold it for €2 to Action, there’s €1 left to cover the cost. And this is all before taxes. Don’t you think something here smells fishy?

It is simply impossible to use any good quality, ethically sourced ingredients, with a production cost this low. When you see a candle unrealistically cheap, think about the lowest quality ingredients, wax of unknown origin, unhealthy and dangerous for the environment chemical fragrance, harmful additives, and underpaid people who worked in the production process. A bit depressing, right?

What is the reasonable price for a scented candle?

Now, you’re probably wondering: what is the reasonable price to pay for a scented candle? First, ask yourself, what size of candle do you need, and what qualities does a good candle have? (Read more on what is a good quality candle in our post here). If it’s important for you that your candles are sustainable, ethically sourced, cruelty-free, and vegan, you most probably go for natural plant-based candles with longer burn time. In my opinion as a candle maker, the reasonable price range for a good quality scented candle is somewhere between €12 – €40. There are variables like size, container sort, and fragrance, that will move the price a bit down or up.

Before you buy a candle, remember that if it’s too cheap, there must be something wrong with it. If it’s ridiculously expensive, you are most probably paying for the brand. I’m sorry for being blunt, but it’s not okay to pay €500 for a candle. Unless it also cleans your home and does the dishes, and groceries for you. The guy who made the candles may say: “But they smell just so beautiful! And oh, how they look!”. I’m telling you, there are plenty of wonderful, high-quality candles that smell heavenly and they cost no more than €20-€30!

Don’t get fooled by big companies

And a side note question: what feels better for you – being one more fish in a sea of millions of anonymous customers for a billiard dollar company, or becoming a respected and welcome customer for a local brand that gives so much love and effort to their products? 🙂

Some of the scented candles are extremely expensive, while others are suspiciously cheap. Don’t let the big companies make a fool of you! The most expensive candles are not really any more special than those in a reasonable price range, which is anywhere between €12-€40 (this is not a fixed indication though). Listen to your heart and don’t let the cheap candles seduce you either. There’s quite a chance that they’ll give you headaches or make you feel nauseous. Choose a candle brand that tries to make a difference; make sure their candles are vegan and cruelty-free, and that ingredients are coming from ethical resources. For the best scent quality, go for plant-based wax. In case of doubts, don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer and ask them questions. If they won’t reply, you know you’re not important to them. You have the right to know what you are paying for.